Why the United States is lagging behind in 4K telecasts of sporting events

  1. Fenway Administrator Sponsor

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    This game up in the GT thread last night and I want to explain why Canada is far ahead of the US in rolling this out.

    https://www.tsn.ca/tsn-4k-broadcast-schedule-1.900579

    TV Schedule for Sportsnet 4K

    As you can see both of Canada's sports networks are doing more and more games and next month TSN will show The Masters in 4K produced by CBS and ESPN that won't be available in the US.

    The US broadcast networks seem to be following the same blueprint that they followed with HD some 15-20 years ago. The NY Rangers first started showing games in HD in 1998. HD was delayed for a couple of years when the New York City TV towers were destroyed on 9/11 and the networks were not going to do anything until HD was again available over the air in New York City. Finally, in 2009, TV stations turned off their analog transmitters forever as they switched to what is known as ATSC from the old analog NTSC.

    Many of you are aware that many sporting events are still transmitted in 720 rather than 1080 and it is mainly a bandwidth issue as ATSC allows a station to transmit several channels at once.

    The industry spent billions buying new equipment for studios and replacing TV production trucks and now they are forced to do it again as 4K processing cannot be handled with HD equipment.

    Let's look at the TV truck industry first which is the backbone of sports broadcasting.

    The industry consolidated after the HD conversion as many companies did not have the capital to compete. The largest players in the US are NEP Production based in Pittsburgh and Game Creek Video based in Hudson, NH. (Game Creek is owned by former Patriots GM Pat Sullivan)

    Here are their current fleets of TV trucks.

    NEP Group - Mobile Units/OB Vans in United States/Canada

    Game Creek Video - Trucks

    With only a couple of exceptions, these trucks can only produce games in HD. It is not a case of simply buying 4K cameras to replace HD ones but all the processing gear needs to be upgraded.

    In Canada, the main supplier of TV trucks is Dome Productions based in Toronto that currently has 3 4K trucks in its fleet. Unlike the US truck companies, Dome is owned jointly by Bell Media and Rogers who not only own TSN and Sportsnet but also cable and satellite distribution systems.

    Dome Productions’ mobile production vehicles

    In the US the truck companies scramble to make deals with NBC, CBS, FOX, Turner and of course Disney (ESPN, ABC). The US networks have resisted making the switch mainly because 4K can NOT be transmitted over the air with ATSC 1.0 - you need separate transmitters to beam 4K in ATSC 3.0.

    The big hangup is the NFL which is the main profit center of the traditional networks. and local advertising revenues for NFL games are critical to the bottom line. 5 years ago FOX traded 2 stations they owned in Memphis and Boston to Cox Broadcasting to get control of the FOX affiliate in Oakland simply because of the local revenue the 49ers produce. 2 years ago in Boston, NBC used a loophole in FCC rules to create an over the air station from scratch and dropped WHDH Channel 7 so they could keep all the local ad revenue.

    The key is the traditional broadcasters need a reliable 4K transmission plan that bypasses the cord cutters.

    Canada doesn't have this problem as even though CBC can't transmit in 4K, Rogers can simply simulcast a game on SN 4K as they control the commercials on both.

    Several US RSN's are looking to roll out 4K channels in the coming year but they need the cooperation of cable and satellite providers who are dealing with limited bandwidth issues of their own. 4K is a data hog and also had a lag issue far greater than HD. Many of us already get notifications on our phones or in Canada 'goal lights' before it shows on our TV.

    There is no easy fix for this.
     
  2. smithformeragent Moderator

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    It’s rare that I watch them on TV anymore.

    80% of the time it’s on my iPad.

    The other times it’s at someone’s house, at Buffalo Wild Wings or on my phone.

    Hence, the quality is negligible on the small screen for me.
     
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  3. Estlin Registered User

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    I have an LG OLED, and to be able watch games in 4K would be glorious.
     
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  4. Gonzothe7thDman Registered User

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    I watch by stream 99% of the time nowadays.

    720p 60fps looks fine to me on my 35 inch ultrawide

    Will be nice when I can take advantage of the 4k TV tho for hockey.

    Hoping more cities and towns start going the way of Chattanooga, TN in terms of creating their own isp. That network could handle 4k streams
     
  5. BruinsFanSince94 Let’s go Bruins

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    As someone last night who was asking about this stuff, thank you very much @Fenway. This was an interesting read.
     
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  6. BNHL Registered User

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    Sony and Samsung recently released 12K TVs
     
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  7. Seidenbergy Registered User

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    8K will go on sale around October to mass market (there are one or two in specialty places now, but no real support for them). 16K in a few years. I haven't seen anything about 12K. That would require some odd upscaling/downscaling.

    8K TV is here: what you need to know about next-gen TV
     
  8. Fenway Administrator Sponsor

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    Without getting too technical - this is all the equipment needed to do a 4K sporting event

    https://domeprod.sharepoint.com/eic/Shared Documents/Spec_Sheets_PDF/Trillium UHD.pdf

    SONY is pretty much the only manufacturer that professional networks will use and they are in no rush to mass produce things to bring the cost down as they want to make back their R&D costs.

    Now say a poor camera op is setting up his camera in Level 5 at TD and the camera slips off the mount and crashes into the loge ( I've seen it happen) - SONY will tell you 6 months for a replacement - IF you need it now well there are options

    NEW Sony HDC-4300L 4K/HD Camera System Chain w/ 4K Fujinon UA22x8BERD Lens | eBay

    Bottom line is banks are a little leery to float loans for technology that could be obsolete in a few years and networks look for the cheapest price from vendors to supply a truck that meets the networks engineering standards. This is not a get rich quick business.
     
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  9. Gonzothe7thDman Registered User

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    I work in IT, and have had a couple of our Marketing people who use Macs "need" 8K monitors to do their work.

    Expensive as hell, but I swung by to check one out after I ordered some and they do look nice.
     
  10. Fenway Administrator Sponsor

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  11. Neely2005 Grey Cup Champions

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    Interesting, I didn't realize that this was an issue in the US.

    Sportsnet (Rogers) broadcasts everything in 4K. TSN (Bell) doesn't broadcast that much in 4K. Mainly only some CFL games that are being played in Ontario.
     
  12. Fenway Administrator Sponsor

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    TSN does all Winnipeg regional home games in 4K - The team owners demanded it.

    Right now the TV truck company that serves Canada has 3 4K trucks

    4K | Portfolio categories | Dome Productions
     
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  13. Neely2005 Grey Cup Champions

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    Good to know, those games are blacked out in Toronto though as Rogers has the National NHL Rights for Canada.
     
  14. Fenway Administrator Sponsor

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    The real heroes in the TV truck business are the drivers as Dome so far has been shuttling one truck between Uniondale and Boston before it heads back to Toronto. Dome is jointly owned by Rogers and Bell
     
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  15. Larrybiv Rangers fan forever!

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    And for me as well! A big man hug to @Fenway . I stumbled into this (Rangers fan) and for someone that is not at all following all the behind the scenes goings on with the way TV is produced and eventually reaching our L.R.'s admittedly, this was very insightful and still not 100% sure I ingested it. Getting old. Lol. Anyway, thanks.
     
  16. KrejciMVP Registered User

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    wonder if it's the lack of infastructure to support theses high resolution. I remember reading for 8k TV's most ISP's or cable providers don't have the speeds to handle that resolution.
     
  17. BNHL Registered User

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    Is it even discernible? I've watched 4K and can't say I notice the difference.
     
  18. Larrybiv Rangers fan forever!

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    Call me stupid but......isnt what this all comes down to is TV's are being produced with these "capabilities" for the future (ala 4k) yet there is little available to actually produce and transition it to those TV's.
    I suppose basic marketing for the sales of these TV's. Unaware (like myself) purchasers thinking they will see 4k, ultimately disappointed. I will be long dead before they straighten all this out.
     
  19. Seidenbergy Registered User

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    DirecTV will be airing the super bowl in 4k. If they can get the box to me in the next two weeks, I'll pull the trigger for that alone.
     
  20. KrejciMVP Registered User

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    I haven't seen a 4k TV diplayed without the store software they show in bestbuy that has really convinced me to upgrade in any significant way.
     
  21. easton117 Registered User

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    Not sure if this is the right place for this. But are there any reliable streaming platforms for us Canadians?

    I’m not talking the free ones, I’ll pay to use it. What I’m tired of doing is paying for centre ice, plus the base cable package, plus the upgrades or whatever just so I can watch hockey games which is the only thing I even use it for anymore.

    edit They’d need to have some sort of playback feature too. I’m never home to see the start of games with work these days
     
  22. Runner77 **********************************************

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    From a consumer standpoint, is it safe to say that it is premature for to purchase a 4K TV in either the US or Canada? We've always gone through this cycle of emerging technologies with a high sticker price only to not be able to use that technology to its fullest extent as those who broadcast with it can't or won't provide any or enough content. The only difference is that technological improvements are happening within shorter cycles.

    Kind of reminds me about the debate on electric cars re how they're still not a viable option even though they're supposed to be the future (high sticker price, not enough charging stations, limited driving range before a recharge needed, limited battery life in very cold temperatures, etc.).

    What kind of timeline would you say is a reasonable projection as to when 4K becomes an industry standard? Also, what happens to content that was produced in the pre-HD days or even in HD -- can it all be converted to 4K or is 4K intended for new productions and content only?
     
  23. Fenway Administrator Sponsor

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  24. MrMars Registered User

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    There is at least starting to be more 4K content out there. FOX/FS1 & ESPN have semi regular 4K events now including the upcoming Super Bowl, I know NBC did the Notre Dame CFB home games, wish they would show the NHL some 4K love..

    @Fenway I know you mentioned NESN was testing 4K 2-3 years ago for a Bruins game, has it been mentioned at all lately? Altitude does all Avs/Nuggets home games in 4K now, so at least one RSN has started. Ironically they are in a dispute with Comcast so only DirecTV picks them up. Comcast at least has the bandwidth now since they do carry FOX/ESPN/NBC 4K events on a regular basis.
     
  25. Fenway Administrator Sponsor

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    The issue has so many moving parts. I know people that have a 4K TV and watch on their smart TV apps and didn't know Xfinity would give them a 4K box at no charge by just asking.

    One issue is NESN's Watertown studios can not handle 4K so if a Bruins game was shown it would have to come directly from the truck. This is how ESPN and FS1 have handled it so far. However NBC was showing commercials on their Notre Dame 4K feeds.

    Now NBC Sports Boston has moved into a 4K ready facility in Needham so I expect we will see the Celtics in 4K shortly and that might force NESN's hand. NBC's new complex has one vacant studio for future use and the whispers are it is for NESN if Comcast buys it.

    Take a Tour of the NBCU Boston Media Center

    The best 4K I have seen is Premier League soccer on weekends on my Xfinity setup.
     

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